Long Beach, Calif., (April 14, 2023) - WeatherTech Racing will start fifth in GTD Pro for tomorrow’s running of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Jules Gounon (France) and Daniel Juncadella (Spain) spent the two practice sessions learning the Long Beach circuit in the No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 with Mercedes-Benz of Billings, Montana support. The two Mercedes Factory drivers are making their first visit to the 11-turn, 1.96-mile closed-street course that circulates around the Long Beach Convention Center.
Juncadella had the wheel for the 15-minute qualifying session. He encountered traffic and caution flags and an eventual red flag that ended the run.
“First, the Long Beach circuit is amazing,” Juncadella said. “I really enjoy it. It’s mega! For me it's a good discovery and new track that I enjoy driving.”
On his qualifying run, “I was compromised by the yellow flags around the track and then later the red. I really didn’t get a good run on the new tires. The WeatherTech Mercedes-AMG GT3 felt good in practice, so we will have to maximize what we have now in the race tomorrow.”
Gounon is also a fan of the close confines of the Long Beach circuit.
“It is amazing when you are four-wheel drifting the car towards the wall,” Gounon said. “I thought sunny California was going to be a bit hotter, but it has been cool.
"We got unlucky in qualifying with Dani. We will have to work our strategy with the WeatherTech Racing/Proton guys and be ready to take advantage of every opportunity. We had big changes in the balance of performance coming into the race, so we will have to optimize everything for the tomorrow.”
The Long Beach Grand Prix is the longest running major street race held in North America. It started in 1975 as a Formula 5000 race and became a Formula One event in 1976. The track is particularly noted for its last section, a sharp hairpin turn followed by a long, slightly curved front straightaway which runs the length of Shoreline Drive. The circuit is situated on the Long Beach waterfront and is lined with palm trees (especially along the front straightaway towards the Aquarium of the Pacific), making for a scenic track.
The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Acura Long Beach Grand Prix will take the green flag on Saturday, April 15 at 5:05 pm ET. The race will be televised on the USA Network and will last just 100-minutes.